5 Tips for Beating Writer’s Block

I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that writer’s block is one of the most infuriating things to experience.  You’re all ready to write that essay due next week, or to start that short story you’ve had milling about in your head for ages.  So you sit down at your desk and open up a blank page or screen, yet the words you’ve been dreaming about just don’t seem to come.  You may have done all the preparation in the world but sometimes the writing gods just don’t smile down on you; instead they sit in clouds in their lofty literary heaven and mock you.

Despair no longer.  Here are some tried and tested tips that I have found really help to harness the power of the Muses and beat writer’s block into submission.

1. Switch up your method of writing

I find that a good way of stimulating the flow of words is to change the medium that I am using to write.  For example, if I’m struggling I will leave my essay notes up on my laptop but begin writing by hand.  Something about writing things out on paper feels far less intimidating and official than typing, even though typing can literally just be deleted…I’m not sure what the psychology of this is.  A bonus of this is that you are more likely to notice any mistakes and bad word choices when you begin to type it all up.  You don’t just have use pen and paper, however.  Try using a notebook, your phone, a voice recorder…You might just find this snaps you out of your funk.

2. Free-writing

Free-writing is not a new technique, and it can be super helpful!  Free-writing is basically writing out a stream-of-consciousness-style page of all your thoughts as they come for an allotted period of time – typically around five to ten minutes, without stopping.  It’s a way to just get yourself writing and composing ideas without worrying about refining as you go.  After this you can sift through your piece of free-writing and see if there are any ideas that can be teased out and edited.  This technique can work for many types of writing, from poetry, to lab reports, to articles!

3. Kick perfectionism to the curb

I know this one is easier said than done, but it really is key.  If you think everything that you write has to be a perfect work of astounding genius, then there is going to be so much pressure that you scare yourself away from even starting.  Imperfect words are better than no words – you can always edit later!  Perfectionism often also goes hand in hand with procrastination, which is fuel to writer’s block.  Putting off writing until you feel the stars align and the heavens open for the beam of divine inspiration to cascade down upon you is never going to work, as there is very rarely a ‘perfect’ time to start writing.  Try training yourself to be okay with writing less than perfect things at less than perfect times.  You will surprise yourself!

4. Step away from your project

Sometimes it seems like however much you try, nothing actually helps.  The words either don’t come or if they do they seem clunky and out of place, and no amount of editing seems to help.  In cases such as these I suggest taking a step away from what you are working on and coming back to it later in order to avoid burning yourself out.  Perhaps using this time to work on something else creative will help provoke ideas and stimulate inspiration for your original piece of writing.

5. Find a writing buddy

This works in a similar way to a study buddy – someone who will hold you accountable and make sure you’re writing when you said you would be.  Maybe you could have writing sessions with them, or perhaps you can agree to send each other a set amount of words by a certain date.  This will give you more drive to push through times of low motivation.  You can also use each other as sounding boards for ideas, proof readers, and all-round writing cheerleaders to fuel your motivation and keep the block at bay!

I hope these tips are helpful to any budding writers out there, or even just those of you trying to push through summative or dissertation season.  Let’s banish writer’s block!